Political Intrigue And Supernatural Beasts Collide In GreedFall

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 06/13/2018 - 23:32

A new action RPG from developer Spiders puts diplomacy front and center – when you’re not being mauled by massive creatures, that is.

GreedFall’s art style is inspired by 17th century Europe, albeit with a heavy dose of magic. The game takes place on an island called Teer Fradee. The island has recently been colonized by survivors from the Old World, which was devastated by a deadly plague. That puts land in Teer Fradee at a premium, and it's up to you to navigate the tense relationships between several competing factions.

Players step into the leather boots of a representative for the Congregation of Merchants, and can fully customize your character by selecting your gender, looks, and clothing. The demo we saw tasked the protagonist with aiding Sior, the daughter of a tribal clan who needs help defending their home from an invading army. Spiders says that the choices and dialogue branches you select will have a major impact on the story, as well as your standing with the various factions. In our demo, the player chooses to help Sior, and sets out to follow her back to the tribe.

The wilderness in GreedFall is full of strange and deadly creatures, including big wolf-bear hybrids that ambush our travelers during the journey. The ensuing combat looks like a weightier take on the hack-and-slash genre; enemies (and presumably the player) can be hit with a variety of status modifiers, such as “stunned,” “off balance,” “knocked down,” and “poisoned.” Dodging is also possible, but on the whole combat is slower and heavier than the typical action game.

After dispatching the creatures, the duo return to the tribe’s land which is already at war with the invading army. Our protagonist and Sior jump into the melee. An interconnected skill tree allows you to build out your character and combat focus as you see fit, whether you want to be a sword-based warrior, or specialize in magic, traps, or firearms.

The protagonist in our demo favors a large two-handed sword that’s able to cut down multiple enemies at once. However, they are too late; most of the tribe has already been slaughtered, including Sior’s mother, the queen. After the battle, the elder surviving tribeswoman reacts hostilely towards the main character, but he manages to talk her down – he assisted Sior after all, and fought alongside them. Players can have up to two NPCs accompany them during the game, and who you choose will also affect your standing with the various factions. These companions come in handy at the end of the demo, when the player encounters a massive horned creature that requires a prolonged series of strikes, dodges, and magic attacks to take down.

So far the interplay between the factions sounds like the most intriguing aspect of GreedFall; Spiders says that players can approach situations with a wide variety of tactics beyond combat, including diplomacy and deception. We’ll have to wait until next year to see how it all comes together, but we’re interested to learn more of GreedFall’s unique world and ambitious RPG elements.  

Categories: Games

Project 1v1 Is A Quake III-Style Shooter With An Old-School Arcade Twist

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 06/13/2018 - 22:35

Project 1v1 may look like a Quake III/Unreal Tournament-style FPS at first glance, but there’s more to it than just the opponent-gibbing action. As the title suggests, Project 1v1’s matches are limited to just two players, and play out on small and twisting maps full of ramps, jump pads, and the occasional insta-kill hazard. Whoever racks up the most frags in the allotted time wins. So far, so ‘90s.

However, Gearbox is adding a few interesting twists to the formula. The first is a queue of spectators, who can watch and comment on the match as it happens. Those onlookers aren’t just watching to boost your ego – whoever is at the top of the queue will be the next competitor to challenge the winner, and hopefully send them packing. This king-of-the-hill format is accentuated by Project 1v1’s HUD, which mirrors what you might find in an arcade fighting game, with the players’ health running in big bright bars across the top, along with their score (frags) and the remaining timer.

Project 1v1's maps are small and densely populated with converging pathways.

The other big twist is how weapons and abilities are handled. The characters you select in Project 1v1 (which sport exaggerated sci-fi art styles) are completely cosmetic and highly customizable, allowing you to tweak various pieces of clothing and ornaments you're wearing, as well as all of the color schemes. How your character actually functions in combat is instead dictated by your “deck,” which is comprised of a handful of cards. These cards cover both weapons (including the usual assortment of rocket launchers, shotguns, railguns, etc.), and abilities, which run the gamut from deployable turrets to speed boosts to a Pharah-style rocket barrage. Gearbox hasn’t worked out all the logistics behind the card packs, but players will be able to earn them through play, and they’ll contain a mix of the aforementioned weapons, abilities, and cosmetic items. Once you unlock a card, you’ll be able to use it in as many loadouts as you wish.

My hands-on demo of the game featured quick and tense matches that hearkened back to the early days of competitive shooters, and the three “decks” I tried featured considerably different abilities. Winning felt particularly good, in part because it meant I could keep on playing without waiting in line for another turn. Whether fans will want to queue up for a 1v1 shooter remains to be seen, but as you can probably surmise from the title and lack of screenshots, Project 1v1 is early in development and Gearbox is clearly still experimenting with the nascent shooter's formula.

Categories: Games

Exploring The Depths Of Starlink: Battle For Atlas

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 06/13/2018 - 22:30

It's easy to think of Starlink: Battle for Atlas as a late-comer to the already-dead toys-to-life market, but thankfully the game itself has more going for it than just the plastic ship you attach to your controller.


The game has a complete solar system of planets to explore, including the option to use your hyperdrive to fly between them. Although they weren't in the demo that I played, you'll also encounter random ships and ports in your travels – including some who are spoiling for a fight.

Naturally planets have missions, involving both combat as well as some puzzles, and there are different factions to take missions from in order to upgrade space stations. There's also loot to find as you explore worlds.

The long and short of it is that Ubisoft Toronto has built out an entire solar system, and there should be no shortage of things to do in it.


Starlink features different ships, pilots, and weapons that you attach to your controller. The weapons constitute the most obvious changes, such as attaching a flamethrower or ice cannon to your wing.

However, the game digs deeper into the options pool. Pilots have their own special attacks (like a giant, rechargable large area blast or an orbital strike) and their stats and abilities can be upgraded via skill points. Moreover, the wings themselves have their own stats, denoting them as more suited to speed or defense. There are also equipment upgrades to find on worlds.

During combat you can hot swap weapons (the game automatically pauses), which is very useful if you need more of a long-range attack, for instance, or you just prefer the Gatling gun. 


Although the demo didn't feature aerial dogfights, there were sequences where your ship was effectively grounded due to corruption fields during a mission. This meant that the ship hovered feet above the ground while ground-based enemies attacked.

This was the weakest part of the demo, as scuttling above the ground in what is otherwise an airborne ship doesn't feel satisfying because you're neither rooted to the ground nor free to fly in the skies.

Pressing Y brings up a temporary front-facing shield, and you can also hop pressing the A button and dodge roll to the left or right, giving you some mobility.

The demo ended with a land-based crab boss, and although my ship was free to take to the skies again for this encounter since I destroyed some corruption structures earlier, the best way to defeat the large boss was, unfortunately, to return to the ground.

Take a look at how Cork and the New Gameplay Today crew fared in the game here.

Categories: Games

Check Your Expectations – Blades Isn't The Full Elder Scrolls Package

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 06/13/2018 - 22:13

One of the best things about open-world role-playing games like the Elder Scrolls titles is they can be many things to many people. Some come for the combat mastery, or leveling characters to god status. Others are most invested in exploring vast open worlds. And then there are the weirdos who fill their house with thousands of skulls. Some of this is inevitably lost in the transition to mobile platforms, but that's not to say fans won't find something to like about Elder Scrolls: Blades. 

Announced at the Bethesda Showcase earlier in the week, Blades is a gorgeous looking mobile title divided into three modes – competitive arena, a story mode about building up a town, and a dedicated dungeon crawl. I got my hands on two scenarios that gave me a good idea of what to expect from the action. 

As Todd Howard explained during his presentation, the team wanted to design a system playable whether you have two free hands to play in landscape mode, or just one (which necessitates using portrait mode). Using either perspective, the touch controls are generally responsive and the control layout intuitive. I ran into some movement problems with navigating tight spaces, but the dungeon designs we played were so rudimentary you may not need to do much scavenging in the corners like you would a traditional Elder Scrolls game. There weren't many cabinets to peruse, books to read, or items to inspect. The only things I could interact with were some smashable vases (all of which looked the same) and the slow-moving enemies. Sneaking is removed from the equation as well, since the enemies don't really engage unless you willfully move their direction.

Combat is as straightforward as it needs to be considering you can play it one-handed. You press down on the touchscreen to charge up an attack, and also have hot buttons for blocking, a shield bash ability, and two spells. Spells and abilities run on cooldown timers, and aren't immediately available for use when you enter combat. For the purposes of this demo, I had a lightning attack and frost armor. The battles come down to careful timing. Parrying an attack opens up a counter opportunity, and some enemies use distance to stay out of your weapon's reach. To kill off the giant rats, you have to time our strike to the moment they moved in for an attack. The shield block and weapons aren't as responsive as you would get from a standard controller, but they're serviceable. 

Loot plays a critical role in Elder Scrolls games, but I'm not a fan of how Bethesda streamlined the goodies for Blades. Instead of receiving new weapons, armor, etc. when you kill an enemy or destroy an object, you collect one of two currencies – gems and coins. I assume these feed into a robust marketplace considering this is a free-to-play game. Harvesting currency doesn't feel nearly as rewarding as unsheathing a shiny new sword.

The inventory available to players feels more in line with standard Elder Scrolls games. You can equip multiple types of weapons, chest armor, gauntlets, shields, helmets, and the like. I just hope some of the rare items can be earned outside of the marketplace.

We didn't get a chance to check out the story mode, which could help the game feel more fleshed out. Based on my short time with the game, I think Blades fits capably in the time-killing mobile game genre. You could easily pick up the game for minutes at a time to grind out some currency to spend later. But as a long-time Elder Scrolls fan, I hope they don't give short shrift on the story, dialogue, and exploration, which are the true elements that make the franchise so special.  

Look for Elder Scrolls Blades on iOS and Android this fall. 

Categories: Games

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Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 06/13/2018 - 22:05

If you watched Sony’s E3 press conference you probably already know that Ghosts of Tsushima is wearing its Samurai film inspirations on its sleeve. The game is bold new direction for the studio, which made its name developing the Sly Cooper and Infamous franchises. Unlike those series, Ghosts of Tsushima is incredibly grounded, but that seems to be to the game’s benefit.

During our behind-closed-doors demo of the game we got a slightly closer look at Sucker Punch’s next game. Ghosts of Tsushima most striking aspect is its gorgeous art design. At any moment, you can pause the game and get a stunning picturesque view that look as if it were ripped from one of the most visually stunning Samurai films of all time. Sucker Punch is also paying homage to this genre by creatively pacing the action. Combat is full of slow pans as opponents faces off against each other, so players can really soak in the moment, and then the studio punctuates the action with a series of quick (and often deadly) strikes.

Ghosts of Tsushima is set in the 13th century, during a time when the Mongol Empire invaded the small Japanese island of Tsushima. Sucker Punch hopes to tell a sprawling wartime epic from the point of view of a lone Japanese Samurai who has been forced to fend for himself. The game is based around real event, but player won’t be reliving every historical beat à la the Assassin’s Creed franchise.

“This is a game that is entirely grounded in reality,” says Sucker Punch director Nate Fox. “We’re trying hard to transport people to 1274 Japan. We’re inspired by history, but we’re not building it back stone by stone. We’re not trying to rebuild Tsushima island. Our protagonist is a work of fiction. We actually thought about using some historical figures, and we asked some people who are more culturally aware than us and they said that it would be insensitive, so we didn’t do it.”


During our demo, we also learned that the section of the game Sucker Punch showed off during Sony’s showcase is only a side quests. Sucker Punch aims to fill the entire game with more involved story quests of a similar caliber, which will help make the world feel alive and real.

“We believe heavily in this being an anthology of stories, where you’ll see something on the horizon, like a town burning, and you’ll meet a character and there will be twists and turns, but it all feels natural and organic. This is absolutely typical of the kind of experience you’ll find in the game, and I want it to be something that feels bespoke and unexpected. My personal goal is that people get lost exploring feudal Japan. Is that what you’re asking?”

That last part is a response to a question I didn’t include in this article. I don’t know why I transcribed it, so feel free to ignore that here. Ghosts of Tsushima is set to release on the PS4. A release date has yet to be announced.

Categories: Games

The Larger World Of Forza Horizon 4

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 06/13/2018 - 21:29

The Forza Horizon franchise has always been about an open world, but Forza Horizon 4 is stretching that in new ways for the series. We talked with the developers at Playground Games in more depth about the what players can expect as they explore, engage in co-op with friends, and enjoy the seamless environment.

Driving around the world, you will always have access to 12 real-life drivers. Moreover, this online state can easily be switched off at any time, at which time the game reverts back to the drivatar-filled world you’re used to. As you race along, your friends can follow you across the map, but the game will load in instances of other real-life drivers.

Players experience four distinct seasons, which introduce their own handling challenges and even open up new areas of the map, and the seasons change for everyone at the same time once per week.

If you see someone, their collision will be turned off unless they’re already a friend or you start a race (you can also block people if you just don't want them in your world). Forza Horizon 4’s co-op blends the previously separate co-op silos so there’s no difference between free-roam and event racing, for instance. While you won't be able to create your own events in the world (like putting down a marker where you hit some huge air, for example), you're free to flow between all the game has to offer with or without other people. 

Despite the fact that the online scope of the game is widening, features like race rewinding and photography are still available, as is the ability to chat in the world via preset messages.

The Horizon Festival is once again at the center of the title (complete with a drag strip and circuit in the hub), but campaign players are free to rise up the ranks as they see fit, whether that's through racing, painting, photography, tuning, or streaming.

The game also broadens out the Forza Horizon lifestyle with ancillary options like houses, jobs, owning businesses, and customization through clothing. There are approximately 12 houses to own in the game, from a simple cottage to Edinburgh Castle, although developer Playground Games hasn't specified how you purchase them (the studio hasn't announced any new microtransactions). Houses can also be used for fast travel.

Those looking for a PvP competitive scene can find it in new team PvP, leagues, and the ability to recruit and create/share PvP circuits.

Post-launch the team is looking at the in-game season format (one year in the game should roughly equal one month) to push new content, and the ultimate goal is to make each season in the game have different stuff to do from in-game year to in-game year. One of the things on the wishlist currently is the ability to make your own events for co-op play.

From game to game the Forza Horizon series has fulfilled the promise of its open world more and more, and Forza Horizon 4 is taking down one of the last main barriers.

Categories: Games

Lara Has Some Devious New Tools In Shadow Of The Tomb Raider

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 06/13/2018 - 18:52

The Tomb Raider reboot has been about building up Lara Croft from a determined but inexperienced explorer to the hero we know today. During our E3 demo of Shadow of the Tomb Raider, we got to play her as a full-on predator, culminating in a chilling scene that shows her confronting – and dismissing – any remaining fears or lingering insecurities.

Unlike the last demo, which featured a gunfight that didn’t end until either Lara or her Trinity adversaries were dead, today’s demo was more flexible. It’s set in a Peruvian jungle, with multiple routes and paths to explore. Lara moves through a dirt trail, as a radio crackles to live with a warning that “Croft is heading to your location.” She climbs a tree, and sees a trio of enemies below her. Jumping down and taking them out with her knife would be a dangerously stupid thing to attempt, so I draw my bow and fire a new fear arrow into the neck of the closest goon.

The projectile hits its mark with a satisfying “Thwack!” and the victim looks around. He begins firing wildly at his comrades, clearly under its spell, taking them both out. A few seconds later, his panic turns to distress as he finally succumbs to the poison and hits the ground dead. It’s reminiscent of the berserk darts and similar toxins from the Assassin’s Creed games, but that familiarity doesn’t make the effects any less enjoyable. Ahead, I use the same tactic to eliminate a cluster of four enemies. The fear arrows are a limited resource, and they’re also not effective on armored enemies, so I take advantage while I can.

Lara is agile as ever, and climbing trees and getting the drop on enemies remains a solid approach. When a Trinity soldier gets too close to me on a patrol, I use a stealth kill that has Lara fire a rope arrow at him, drop from the tree, and string him up. I’m doing so well that I start to get a little cocky; I try to deactivate a generator while a guard is coming back, and he notices me – even though I stopped by a puddle a bit earlier and covered myself in mud.

The fighters are aggressive and relentless. I try to juke their attacks, but it’s hard to avoid bullets with fancy footwork alone. I do manage to scramble away and backtrack to a vine-covered wall, where I can hide in its greenery. It’s enough to fool the guards into thinking I’m gone for good. That was a mistake. I find a gas can in an elevated spot, and throw it on the ground near several guards. They react the same way they do when I chuck bottles at them: firing blindly at the sound. It’s a fatal error, as their shots detonate the container and the explosion clears out the stragglers.

Lara radios for her friend Jonah, and hears an unfamiliar voice. Jonah’s dead, the voice taunts, and his body can be found in the refinery. “I’m coming for you,” she replies.

Lara moves past a gate, and the jungle gives way to a more industrial setting. Steel drums and vehicles are scattered along the path, which leads to the refinery. She’s midway across a bridge when a spotlight blasts on face, mounted on a helicopter. Stealth is no longer an option. An army of Trinity thugs open fire, and an extended platforming sequence begins. We’ve all seen the basic elements here before – collapsing catwalks, rails that bend and swing when grabbed, and death-defying leaps – but the graphical fidelity and effects from the now-flaming refinery keep it exciting.

The demo ends with Lara falling into the water, and her body is limp as it sinks. A montage of audio memories plays; people from her past and Lara herself doubt her resolve. But she refuses to give in. Her eyes open, and she slowly rises from the water, standing tall as walls of flame flicker behind her. A wounded guard is on the dock, and Lara methodically bears down on him, knife ready. It’s a powerful moment, and the screen cuts to black before we see how it ends. I can only imagine it’s not going to be good for him, for Trinity, and possibly for Lara herself. 

Look for Shadow of the Tomb Raider on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on Sept.  14.

Categories: Games

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Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 06/13/2018 - 18:05

One of the most exciting features on the way in the release of Destiny 2: Forsaken is a new weapon archetype. The bow changes up the battlefield in some important ways, not least because it’s a distance weapon that isn’t actually a gun.

I had the good fortune to get some extensive early hands-on time with the bow, and rapidly found the potential for fun. The pace of shooting is different from what we’ve come to expect with the guns of Destiny 2, and the change is refreshing. “There’s a pace and rhythm to it that is totally different from our other weapons – adding more anticipation to your shots sort of puts you in a zen-like trance,” says designer Greg Peng. “Draw, Aim, Fire, Nock, Draw, Aim, Fire, Nock, Draw, Aim Fire.” Until you shoot it for yourself, it’s hard to grasp the natural feel of the shooting. It delivers as a high-risk, high reward weapon. You invest a significant micro-chunk of time to draw the bow back and get to full power, so nailing the precision hit is essential. But when it connects (often killing PvE enemies in one shot) it’s immensely satisfying.

Continue reading...

Categories: Games

5 Reasons Tetris Effect Might Be The Umpteenth Time You Buy Tetris

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 06/13/2018 - 17:04

Tetris is one of the most readily available games in the world, and yet people keep making new versions of it. Most of them are generally unaltered, content to act as a quick and easy way to get the game on new platforms and services.

Tetsuya Mizuguchi's take on Tetris is a bit different. While the basic premise is still the same (I'm not going to explain Tetris to you), the way Tetris Effect alters the experience is more about altering the experience of playing Tetris than the game itself, and from my short demo at E3 this year, I think it really works.

I didn't think I'd come away excited about game I've played all my life at E3, but here are five reasons I'm excited to put on some headphones and play some damn Tetris in 2018.

Tetsuya Mizuguchi has good taste in music

Although his games are often carefully designed, fun, and hypnotic puzzlers, the biggest appeal of Tetsuya Mizuguchi games for me is having another chance to delve into his taste in music. After playing hours of Lumines: Electronic Symphony a few years ago, I made a Spotify playlist of all the songs from the game available on the service, and had it on regular rotation for about two years.

The guy knows how to curate a playlist and enhance it through gameplay. You could easily sell Tetris Effect by saying "It's Lumines, but you play Tetris instead." That sounds crazy, but you also know exactly what I mean; while the puzzling aspect is a key part the experience, it's how the music and visuals intertwine with that experience that make Mizuguchi's work stand out, and that's what Tetris Effect is.

The songs I listened to during my demo are still stuck in my head, as are the various sound effects you can make by rotating and dropping Tetrominoes. As much as Tetris Effect is another Tetris game, it's also another Mizuguchi game, and those trappings enhance the trance you enter while playing Tetris.

It's gorgeous

As in Lumines, Tetris Effect has you play through a series of songs rather than simply clear lines 'til you drop. When the music transitions from one song to the next, the backdrop and block aesthetic changes with it. During this transition, you get the kind of dense, colorful explosions you might want to test out a new 4K TV with, and it adds to the experience.

Some of the backdrops in my demo were especially trippy, including one themed after Egyptian pyramids, where all the blocks where cleverly made up of two triangles and a sea of enormous diagram-like shapes of spheres and pyramids approached the screen at high speed. Another involved a sort of tribal ritual, where part of the song and sound effects were the primal "huhs!" of a chant acted about the tribe on-screen. By default, the actual Tetris board is fairly small on the screen, placing a larger emphasis on the backdrop. It might a little distracting to your actual Tetris play, but it works.

Especially In VR

Strapping on a headset to play Tetris sounds like something out of a dystopian future, but doing so is worth it for a couple of reasons. For one, it sort of forces you to put on headphones, which should be a given for a Mizuguchi game. Second, the visual flair that occurs when you transition from one song to the next is heightened when the particle effects fly right at your face.

You can also zoom the view of the board in and out, and at its most zoomed in, you actually have to look up and down to see the entire board. It's weird and again probably won't make you a better Tetris player, but this is more about the experience of playing Tetris than getting high scores, and it's a pretty fun novelty.

The Zone mechanic adds to Tetris without ruining it

The only real change to gameplay Tetris Effect makes is the introduction of the Zone mechanic. As you play you build up a meter, and when you unleash it (preferably when your board starts filling up), time slows down, letting you stack up and clear lines more easily. Even better, every line you clear is instead moved to the bottom of the board, and when the Zone timer ends, all the lines you've cleared disappear at once, making for some easy points.

Tetris is as perfect as any game is ever going to be, but the Zone adds to it in a fun way. It doesn't meaningfully alter the way you play Tetris, but does add a fun pace of building meter and pulling off Zone maneuvers, which again serves to distinguish Tetris Effect from other versions of the game without adding a layer that ruins the whole thing.

It has a story mode

Okay, maybe not a story mode the way you're thinking. You don't play as the square Tetromino and recruit the other Tetrominoes to take down the malevolent Top of the Tetris Board or something. It's a little more like Rez, where there's a loose narrative between all the songs you're playing through, but nothing too overt. There's a plot and message in the Tetris Effect, but it'll be delivered through the music and game itself.

There's also a menu where you select different stages made up of three or four songs, each are which act as a short, tailor-made medley designed around a theme or feeling. The length of these medleys changes depending on what difficulty you play on, and you'll have to work your way up to the hardest difficulty in order to see the complete version of a given stage. It's a neat way to repackage Tetris, and I'm hoping it delivers the same sort of euphoric denouement Mizuguchi tends to go for in his games.

I'm still a little surprised by how excited the changes in Tetris Effect made me to play Tetris again. I'm still a bit on the fence about VR as a whole, but playing it with a headset on definitely pushed me closer towards one. But even if that doesn't appeal to you, can play the entire game without it. Just make sure you wear headphones.

Tetris effect is schedules to release this fall on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation VR.

Categories: Games

Ori And The Will Of The Wisps Wisely Builds On Strong Foundations

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 06/13/2018 - 15:11

At a behind doors demonstration during E3, we got to see some more of the sequel to Ori and The Blind Forest in action. The original game wooed us back in 2014 with its Metroid-like gameplay and beautiful graphics. From what we saw Will Of The Wisps, a sequel due out on Xbox One in 2018, will give fans of the first game even more beauty to gawk over while also adding a surprisingly in-depth combat system to the mix.

The demo we watched was short, focusing on Original explore a desert area called The Windswept Wastes. A new burrowing mechanic let Ori dive in and out of sandpits to tangle with nasty, fanged worm enemies. While on the surface, Ori had a whole suite of abilities to take on baddies, including a magical spear, bow & arrow, hammer, and self-healing ability. 

Perhaps the most impressive thing about Will of the Wisps, like the original game, is the fluidity of movement. Ori's movements recall an almost 90s Disney-like animation style, with the little fella zipping back and forth, launching volleys of arrows before bouncing out of a pit with two well-placed jumps. The speed and beauty of Ori's attacks and evasive maneuvers is lovely to behold and, just as it did with the platforming in the original game, gives Will Of The Wisps' combat its own unique identity.


We came away impressed with Will Of The Wisps. Though the game's release window is still a bit away, the offerings that Moon Studios showcased are a promising sign of where this platforming-action series will go.

Categories: Games

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Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 06/13/2018 - 07:20

Super Meat Boy was a challenging platformer and a big hit in the indie scene when it released back in 2010. The sequel has been in the works for a long time. First announced back in 2014 as a mobile-only sequel, the project originally began development as an auto run platformer for mobile platforms. However, the game has evolved a lot over the last few years. I once thought it was going to be an inferior mobile offshoot that wouldn’t live up to its name, but after playing several levels at E3, I now know that I was wrong.

Don’t be like me. Here are several takeaways from my hands-on times.

  • Meat Boy and Bandage Girl now have a kid named Nugget who has been kidnapped by Dr. Fetus, which is why you’ve set off on this crazy adventure.
  • Team Meat is still considering adding additional characters, but right now it’s just Meat Boy and Bandage Girl who both control the same.
  • The controls are as tight and precise as the original.
  • The game features more story cutscenes, usually before a boss.
  • This is still an auto run game, but the levels are very polished, and honestly I almost didn’t miss being able to control the movement.
  • A randomization element pulls from over 100 premade level chucks to construct all of Super Meat Boy Forever’s levels, which means that each level could be completely different every time you play it.
  • I know procedurally generated games get a bad rap, but these levels all felt very polished, like real levels.
  • Team Meat is considering a mode that will let players play through all 100 of a level’s premade segments as one ultra-level.
  • The checkpoints are very forgiving, which is good because these levels are a bit longer than the original Meat Boy’s levels.
  • You now have an attack button. Attacking enemies gives you a bit of an extra time in the air, which is useful for platforming. You can also use this attack to hit switches, which opens new doors and activates buzzsaws and other deathtraps.
  • Sliding also functions as an attack.
  • The game is challenging, and I was playing on the easiest of the three base difficulties. It also feels fair.
  • The soundtrack is good, but it will be hard to live up to the original’s soundtrack.
  • Super Meat Boy Forever is being developed for Switch, PS4, Xbox One, PC, and eventually mobile. The Switch version is set to release later this year, and the rest will follow.
  • This isn’t a detail about the game, I’m just here to tell you that the article is now over.
  • I’m sorry, but all good things come to an end.
Categories: Games

Hitman 2 Retains The Same Murderous Flavor In A New Locale

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 06/13/2018 - 06:41

2016's Hitman brought the series back to its roots while making it more elaborate than ever, giving players numerous paths to their target and letting them experiment along the way. While Hitman 2 doesn't change that formula much, it does improve on it, making some under-the-hood changes that should make it easier for would-be assassins to track and kill their targets. It's also improving on the game's release schedule, with the promise of regular updates and a full game out of the gate.

My demo left me with the impression IO Interactive doesn't want to fix what wasn't broken, but is continuing to refine the experience. My mission placed me in Miami, where I was tasked with sabotaging a prominent race car named Sierra Knox at Formula 1-esque race. I began my mission without weapons of any kind, which may have limited my options out of the gate, but made getting through the pat-down at security a breeze.

Once inside the event proper, it's clear Miami is following in the lineage of its predecessor by packing Miami with thousands of people and lots of spaces to explore. IO tells me there are over 2,000 NPCs, and it's a little difficult to get a good read on the place at first. I hop on a set of nearby bongos for a few seconds, then hop off to explore my options. I notice the VIP section, which is sporting a discerning security detail.

As I start to piece a plan together to lure one of the guards away to nab his outfit, Diana Burnwood points me to a red van in the parking garage, which she's loaded with a silenced pistol and an explosive. As I make my way to the van, I notice an inner office inside the parking garage with two guards in it, one of which was asleep at the wheel. After loading up at the van, I scan the edges of the garage for a bit and find a fuse box out of sight of the guards. Sabotaging the fuse box turns the power off in the office, luring the one conscious guard out of his post. After subduing him and dragging his body into the locker located right next to his fellow unconscious guard, I don the security garb and make my way into the VIP section.

At the VIP section, I hear that one of the mechanics on Knox's pit crew is planning to quit. Diana quickly has me tail him through a crowd, which is where one of Hitman's new features comes into play. Blending into crowds is now an explicit part of the game, and lowers the awareness of suspicious people around you.

As I blend in with the crowd, I realize one of Hitman's guiding principles is still in place: In order for the mechanic to make his next move, I need to "trigger" his next action by walking near him, instead of simply waiting for him go along his route. While this isn't a dealbreaker, it hampers my immersion in the world, and I had hoped the full sequel would have meant a more clockwork world, with every character acting independently of Agent 47.

I roll with it, however, and begin tailing the mechanic at a distance by cutting through crowds interspersed at the outside VIP section. I stop to reassess after he decides to start sipping wine at the bar. As is often the case in Hitman, it's time to poison his drink. My guise as security hasn't been compromised, so I'm free to head into the kitchen to wait for a waiter to enter the supply room. As soon as they enter, I chuck a kitchen knife at their face and take their outfit. Of course, the rat poison I need is right behind me.

Back at the bar, I get to see another tweak in action: I can now choose to keep my head down as a waiter while I wait for the mechanic to leave his drink unattended, which lowers my chances of being spotted by another waiter who might know better than to let an overly stoic guy with a barcode tattoo tend bar. After a few seconds, I see my chance and slip the poison in the mechanic's drink, then follow him to the bathroom. 

Before I subdue him, IO tells me to watch out for people and mirrors. If someone happens to be looking at a mirror with your refelction, it'll count as them seeing you. Luckily, the bathroom is empty, and I'm free to leave the unconscious mechanic to his bodily functions.

While wearing the mechanic's outfit, I head to the pit near the race track. The pit crew leader doesn't skip a beat and immediately orientes me on the finer points of being a crew member as though I'd just been hired. He tells me to get out on the track and maintain Knox's car. With the explosive still on me, it's all too easy to sabotage the whole affair. While I went with the explosive, IO tells me there are at least two more ways to end the scenario.

Finally, to confirm my kill, I stop by the racetrack to get a better few of the finale. As Knox races past me, I detonate the explosive, ending the demo. This is a fairly standard Hitman anecdote, but that's indicative of Hitman 2's approach: The original has created so many player-made stories worth telling that it's hard to justify upending too much of the formula.

If anything, the most important thing Hitman 2 changes is the release schedule: Rather than release one scenario every month or so, players will have access to the entire game at once when the game releases on November 13, letting them play out Agent 47's next few mission on their own. IO assures me its dedicated to supporting Hitman 2 past release, however, and confirmed bonus missions like escalation contracts and elusive targets will make a return and will be delivered on a similar schedule as before.

They also confirmed Agent 47's briefcase is back, letting you stow just about any item inside. You can also leave the briefcase lying around, and it will be noticed by passersby, which could screw up your entire plan or play right into your hand, depending on how you use it.

These details are all great, but I wonder why Hitman 2 is a wholly separate game from the first, instead of a continuation of the world of assassination established in the first Hitman. Still, if Miami is at all indicative of the expansive playgrounds Hitman 2 will let players go wild in, it should deliver the same kind of sly-yet-goofy thrills fans have become so enamored with in the last few years.

Categories: Games

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Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 06/13/2018 - 05:02

Resident Evil 2 is one of the most beloved Resident Evil games of all time. It has a beloved-ometer rating of over 780. It’s so loved that fans have been asking for a remake for decades. Then in 2015, Capcom announced that it would finally remake the entry that fans had been asking about for years. At E3 we went hands on with the game to see if it is everything we want. Here are our two biggest takeaways.

  1. Holy crap! This game is perfect for Resident Evil 2 fans. Like the GameCube remake of the ordinal Resident Evil, this game looks way better than the original, but it also plays on your expectations in some fun ways.
  2. There are two campaigns. The original RE2 featured two playable heroes and an innovative zapping system in which events from a player’s first playthrough would affect their second playthrough with the second character. This remake doesn’t feature a zapping system, but Claire and Leon are both playable, and each character has their own unique campaign.

I know I only promised you two details, so don’t tell anyone that I’m giving you a few extra.

Bonus detail: The game features a behind the shoulder camera similar to Resident Evil 4, but this game retains its survival horror focus. Where Resident Evil 4-6 were more action oriented, the remake of 2 is moodier and slower, featuring the classic puzzles and Metroid-like elements of the original game.

Bonus detail 2: The layout of the police station is very familiar, but this time around the floorplan includes bathrooms. Like the remake of the original, you take a slightly different route through the station, but I encountered several rooms that looks eerily familiar to the original PlayStation game that we all know and love.

Bonus detail 3: Combat knives actually seem useful, because this time around they can be used as a defensive weapon. Like the remake of the original (what am I? A broken record?), you can collect knifes, which act as a defensive tool. If a zombie attacks, you can stab one through its brainpan with a knife. However, unlike the first remake, these knives can be retrieved from courses and reused. But remember, they’re not made of adamantium, so you’ll only get a few uses out of them.

Bonus detail 4: The map is awesome. Not only does the map automatically fill out as you explore your environment, it highlights points of interest that you might want to return to, so it is easy to see if you missed something, or where you left that first aid spray you couldn’t carry your first time through a space. Rooms that have been fully explored are highlighted blue, but if you still have items to collect in a room that space is highlighted red.

Bonus detail 5: Seriously, Resident Evil fans, I think this is the game you’ve been waiting for! At the same time, those who haven’t experienced the original PlayStation-era game should still have a good time. The game releases on January 25 for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One X, and then on a later date for PC.

Okay, be cool. Don’t tell anyone I gave you all those free bonus details. We had a deal.

Categories: Games

Returning To Ellie And The World Of The Last Of Us Part II

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 06/13/2018 - 02:45

The Last of Us Part II trailer was brilliant for its contrasts. It showed us the brightest and darkest of what the world can be. Ellie is 19 and navigating the new and exciting waters of love, but it’s just a respite in what is otherwise still a grim and dangerous reality. The pairing of these contrasts is something developer Naughty Dog is ideally suited for. It has the ability to convey the rush of different emotions in Ellie's face as she kisses Dena, while also allowing players to fluidly move and act in violently brutal ways. I talked to writer/director Neil Druckmann and new co-writer Halley Gross about the world of The Last of Us Part II and the complex characters that inhabit it.

The first trailer for The Last of Us Part II back in 2016, revisited Ellie, who is in a vengeful frame of mind. Five years past the first game, she has grown up and hardened from her experiences, hinting at what must be the unfathomable toll of living in this harsh reality. This is perhaps thanks to Gross. “I’ve always been really interested in trauma and the effects of trauma on the soul.” she said. “So when Neil pitched me on this game almost two years ago now, I was just like like, ‘Yeah, this is the stuff I’m really into to.’ So the opportunity to have that conversation in a post-pandemic environment with a character as complex as Ellie was impossible to shy away from.”

Druckmann says Gross fit right in, even though she’s coming into a world and characters that started without her. “What’s awesome is day one Halley jumped in and was not afraid to say, ‘We need to make some big changes here. What if we make this character had this totally different thing?’ It was awesome, and she totally took ownership of all of it, and now we can say we’re owning this story together.”

The game’s trailers so far have alluded to an antagonistic threat to Ellie and other characters called the Seraphites. They are a group of religious extremists who speak of sin and apostates, and who have a penchant for hanging people. “You get the hint that there are certain rituals they perform on people outside of their religion,” say Druckmann. “They’ve existed since the outbreak and they have a very nuanced, interesting history at how they’ve arrived at this point.”

If the Seraphites violently express their faith, is it possible that Ellie’s homosexuality is anathema to their beliefs? Druckmann and Gross didn’t address this point specifically, but I did ask them if her sexuality served as background for her character and/or if it was something others in the world would respond to. “I don’t think we necessarily want to get into the larger narrative,” says Gross, “but we’re really excited to show all facets of Ellie’s personality. Part of that is who she’s attracted to, what her relationships are, who she’s willing to play for, so part of that is addressing her sexuality, for sure.”

“Our approach has always been, ‘How do we write these characters as honestly as possible?’" says Druckmann. “We’ve already established that Ellie is gay in [the Left Behind DLC for the first game]. She’s 19 now. She’s living in somewhat of a peaceful community. It felt very right to explore a romantic interest.”

Regardless if Ellie’s sexuality matters to the Seraphites, they're clearly a dangerous group. The recent trailer showed them communicating and coordinating with each other to pinpoint Ellie’s location, which is something that Druckmann says is part of the game’s advancement in its A.I. The game’s levels are larger and have more verticality, so enemies need greater awareness to cope with this. They whistle to each other and gradually gather in numbers instead of having everyone instantly aware of your position as soon as you’re spotted like in the first game.

Although the E3 trailer featured only Ellie in combat – and she was more than holding her own – Druckmann says that Naughty Dog titles have always been about having a companion. He says the developer has made a lot of strides in pathfinding, A.I., and making the companions “feel more human,” that should make any allies with you more realistic than in the original Last of Us.

Of course, no companion means more to Ellie than Joel – who’s only been alluded to so far, but who is undoubtedly a big part of this new game. I loved The Last of Us’ ambiguous ending and how it put its weight on the trust in the pair’s relationship. While that moment is in the past, it still reverberates five years on.

“We made and wrote the first game to stand on its own,” says Druckmann. “We wouldn’t make a sequel unless we felt like there was something equally important to tell. Even when we did Left Behind, there was that fear of, ‘Are we hurting this?’ Left Behind was a huge success, and fleshed out the characters further. Here there was this opportunity not only to tell what we thought was a very important message that we believe in, but to flesh out a complex character in even more interesting and nuanced ways. And if we’re going to do that, you can’t ignore that ending. You can’t just shy away from it.”

Categories: Games

We Hunted Some Monsters In Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate On The Switch

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 06/13/2018 - 01:20

Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate is a game lost in time, which is not a description that would have been apt six months ago. The Switch game is a port of a 3DS title released in Japan in March 2017, which is itself an enhanced version of a game released in 2015. The legacy of the title leaves it feeling moderately awkward in a post-Monster Hunter World environment, though its overflowing content does a lot to make up for quality of life improvements.

Unlike its humble 3DS beginnings, Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate is in HD, both docked and undocked. The game looks crisp compared to the 3DS versions and predecessor Monster Hunter 4, as the bump in resolution and smoothing out of jagged edges does provide an appreciable visual clarity bump. Unfortunately, not every part of the game was redone for the new resolution, as multiple UI elements look blown and scaled up for HD in an unpleasant way.

The demo we played put us against Generations Ultimate’s new banner elder dragon, Valstrax. The scaly creature rushes into hunters with the speed of a Tigrex and refuses to stay still for even a second. Despite a valiant effort, the hunting party failed to beat Valstrax, as he shot forward like a missile into three hunters at once and caused an instant loss.

Bringing Monster Hunter off the 3DS is an undeniable leap for controls. A Pro controller works to lessen the issues with playing such a demanding action game in a cramped space and even the Switch’s built-in joycons make the game feel more comfortable. The action is aided by a rock-solid framerate at 60 FPS, which never waivers, one of the benefits of porting a 3DS game to the much more powerful Switch.

People who have Monster Hunter Generations on 3DS will be able to transfer their save files, including their hunter and all their weapons, equipment, and items, to Generations Ultimate on the Switch. Capcom says this will be done via an app downloadable from the 3DS eShop that will facilitate moving the save file over to the Switch.

We asked whether Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate would be using Nintendo’s online app for voice chat and were told that the game doesn’t support voice chat online.

Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate is that same Monster Hunter fans loved before Monster Hunter World came out and can probably love again, but those small improvements and changes add up. That said, the content in the game is incredible, and our first impressions are that it is the ultimate culmination of what defined the pre-World Monster Hunter games.

Categories: Games

I Played Pokémon Let's Go Pikachu With The Poké Ball Plus

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 06/12/2018 - 23:33

Pokémon, at least the mainline core Pokémon RPGs, don't usually have a big presence at E3. A quick hands-on isn't a great way to showcase a huge RPG, so Pokémon games are usually relegated to a trailer or an interview with a developer.

This year, however, Game Freak brought Pokémon Let's Go Pikachu to E3 and we got a chance to play it using the Poké Ball Plus.

The first step to play the game involved placing the Poké Ball Plus in my hand. It's made of a sturdy soft plastic and has a strap that cannot be removed from the hardware. Attached the strap is a little plastic ring that you're supposed to put on your finger. I think the combination of the strap and the ring are in place to make absolutely sure that when you throw the Poké Ball Plus at your TV and crack the screen, The Pokémon Company cannot be held responsible in any way.

The Ball Plus has a clickable control stick that feels like your standard control stick. There is also a button on top that I don't I would have noticed had it not been pointed out to me. It blends in with the red plastic is primarily used as a back or cancel button. I asked Nintendo if the Ball Plus could be used as a controller for other games (I specifically mentioned the upcoming Dark Souls), but they said they had no additional details at this time.

I started early on the game with Pikachu on my shoulder and Charizard in tow. I encountered a trainer looking for a fight and the combat played out like your typical combat scenario. My Pikachu had four moves, and I made quick work of their Caterpie. Instead of collecting currency, I collected Poké Balls and berries. Apparently, currency will be present in the final game, but for this build, it was set up to only collect items.

All of the Pokémon received experience points for the fighter, even if they weren't in the battle. This experience share option can be turned off in certain situations, apparently.

After that, it was time to catch a Pokémon. I could see all the Pokémon moving in and out of the grass, but I was still surprised by some that were small enough to blend in. Some Pokémon were surrounded blue or red circles. The blue ones were small Pokémon and red ones were large Pokémon. Engaging with a Pokémon does not a typical Pokémon fight. Instead, you are treated to a Pokémon Go-like screen where you must pantomime throwing the Poké Ball Plus at the screen to throw it. Unlike Pokémon Go, however, the circle that closes around the Pokémon that you have to aim for does not pause the moment the ball leaves your hand, so there is an extra layer of timing involved.

I tried "throwing" the Ball Plus in a few different ways, and it felt a bit erratic. The standard throw motion lead to successful captures, but throwing it to the left, for example, didn't real make it seem like it flew off to the left. I didn't get to try it, but if you're playing in handheld mode, the action changes a little bit and you have to aim for the Pokémon using the whole Switch console. Regardless of how you play, docked or in handheld, there will always require motion controls to capture Pokémon with no option to turn it off.

I'm turned off by the motion control requirements of capturing Pokémon, but I was impressed by the visuals of the game (I never want random Pokémon battles again), and the combat against other trainers. It feels looks exactly like traditional Pokémon fighting, which I was happy to see.

Pokémon Let's Go Pikachu, Let's Go Eevee, and the Poké Ball Plus releases November 16.

Categories: Games

Impressions And Details From 50 Minutes Of Gameplay

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 06/12/2018 - 22:53

At this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo, I attended CD Projekt Red's first live demonstration of Cyberpunk 2077, a project that was announced in 2012, and remained in development until it was officially unveiled at Microsoft's press conference just a couple of days ago. I entered this demonstration with thoughts of Witcher III: Wild Hunt, thinking I would see something similar in design, only with futuristic trappings in a sprawling city. My memories of Geralt of Rivia and his adventures vanished when CD Projekt Red showed me Cyberpunk 2077 is a first-person, open-world RPG. It's a completely different beast than Witcher, delivering player choice in a what appears to be a more dangerous and dynamic world.

The demo begins with character creation. That's right, you're going to get to design your own cyberpunk. You can select whether you wish to be a male or female, and can design what they look like, right down to giving them scars, tattoos, hair styles, makeup, glow effects, and a lot more. Your character is simply named V, an urban mercenary who takes on jobs that are too dangerous for most people. Who is V? You're going to get to decide what kind of backstory he or she has by selecting from a variety of options in the backstory creator.

I don't know how deep this well goes, but all of the choices I quickly spied looked troubling, like being a runaway child. The choices you make are not forgotten, and will directly affect the narrative as it unfolds. Your gender choice will also play a role in shaping the narrative. After determining your character's life path, you then get to select your position in the world, such as being a Netrunner, Techie, or Solo. CD Projekt Red says you can be a mix of them all if you want, and you aren't really selecting a defined class in this moment, but more so your weaknesses and strengths, as the game features a fluid class system that allows you to customize it as you go.

In this demo, CD Projekt Red picked a female version of V with stylish long hair that hangs mostly on the left side of her head. We first see her holed up in Night City, somewhere near the beginning of the game, but not right at the start of it. This world is run by mega corporations that control almost every aspect of life. The streets are ruled by organized crime, and survival is difficult if you can't carve out your own path. V appears to be doing quit well on the survival part, and has partnered with someone named Jackie Welles, an assassin and gun for hire.

V and Jackie are hunting down a missing person, who is believed to be in the hand of a scavengers holed up in a rundown apartment complex, with trash everywhere, holes in the wall, but just enough high-tech wizardry to make it feel like you're in a science-fiction world. The scavengers hold true to their name and are kidnapping people to strip them of their implants. We don't see V in this moment, and only see the gun she's holding – the same viewpoint we see in every first-person shooter. During the demo, a CD Projekt Red employee says this viewpoint was selected to "bring you closer to the action and to maximize your immersion."

V enters the room and quickly dives behind a waist-high object, but doesn't remain concealed for long. She takes a huff from a reflex booster, which glows somewhat magically when its inhaled, and opens fire on a number of unsuspecting scavengers. As the bullets fly, V uses the booster to initiate what is effectively bullet time. The world slows down around her for a few seconds, plenty of time to take down her targets. The scavengers in the next room over don't want to deal with V directly, and shut a metal door that V and Jackie can't get through. As they look for an alternate path, bullets from the scavenger's room come flying through the wall. V and Jackie quickly maneuver out of harms way, and use a window to flank to the side of the scavenger that is wielding a huge firearm. V takes him down, and Jackie quips "You won't need this anymore," as he grabs the impressive gun.

V works her way into a bathroom to find a disturbing sight: a bathtub filled with water, ice, and two naked human bodies – a male and female. V moves the male body to the side of the tub, and grabs the woman. Her eyes are somewhat rolled back, but she's still breathing. V pulls her out of the tub, and Jackie says she doesn't look good. V tells someone over she's communicating with remotely that she's going to jack in to see if she can be saved. By jacking into the woman's neuro socket, V is able to see a variety of data, and is able to call in a medical team. This particular woman is apparently a big deal as the medical team that will assist her is platinum level. After working past a couple of security measures in the woman's system, V calls in a medical evacuation unit. Before they can move her, the woman flatlines. V uses a "hypo" on her heart to stabilize her. The woman is carried to the balcony outside of the apartment, just a as a flying medical ambulance arrives. CD Project Red says a virus was jamming her locator implant, and V was able to fix it.

The trauma team is heavily armed, and is a high-end version of insurance for rich people. V asks if they can give her and Jackie a lift, but they don't respond. We then see V walking through the city, a jaw-dropping moment that is a shows off all different walks of life. People are everyone, and they all look different, some telling stories just from their appearance. If the player focuses on them, V can see their stance in life. Text appears over their head saying things like "junkie" or "bodyguard" along with their level. When you look at Jackie, you see his name and his level, which is eight in this demo. V is currently level one. As V walks past people, I see some of them can be approached, potentially for conversations or missions. None are engaged at this moment.

We then see V in her apartment, which is much nicer than the one the scavengers were holed up in. Opening the blinds on her window, shows a neon-lit view of billboards on old concrete structures, and a window that doubles as a computer, where it appears she can check her mail and more. We see view go into a backroom that doubles as her armory. She grabs her trusty pistol, and then moves to her closet near the front door, which holds her jackets, each giving protections for various things like physical, thermal, EMP, and chemical. The jacket also gives her stret cred, which can elevate her standing in the world.

V's journey into the city continues, and again, we're treated to a showcase of sights to soak in, including a box match occurring out in the open between a human with boxing gloves and shorts, and what appears to be a robot or someone who is modded up to the point that they no longer look human. We also see a crime scene that is blocked off with police tape. It appears that the police are putting the crime together using holographic images, similar in a way to Batman's detective work in the Arkham games.

V enters the backseat of a futuristic car to find a larger man named Dexter Deshawn, who has a golden implants on an arm he lifts to smoke a cigar. Dexter is a fixer and he has a mission for her. V is in the market to make some "eddies," a form of currency in this world, and is glad to assist. She sits in the backseat with him as he details a potential heist. The player is frequently given input in conversations. The choices you make don't just alter the flow of the conversation, they can completely change the mission you are about to take on.

We see this first hand in the mission Dexter has assigned us to. He wants to see if V can be trusted and is worthy of working with him. She's tasked to retrieve a piece of high-combat gear stolen by a gang from a military corporation.

Jackie Welles runs with V.

She will meet the head of the military corporation under a bridge in a bit. She first visits a ripperdoc to get some upgrades. It appears the player can visit this location freely, as numerous upgrade options appear onscreen. The amount of detail that accompanies this process is stunning, showing V's arm get numbed with sci-fi needles and shoved into a device that fastens metal and wires to her palm as the doctor communicates with her. The doc then does a procedure on her eye, which is removed and turned off briefly. V has a bit of an out-of-body experience as her eye is moved away from her for a brief time while the upgrade is applied. What exactly did V get put in her eye? A Kiroshi optical scanner that can be used to scan for threats, access points, and more. The scanner also allows the player to zoom in on objects. Her hand is outfitted with a subdermal weapon rig, which increases her gripping force and helps with her shooting. We're told this doctor is honorable, but others can apply illegal upgrades

V is now ready for action. She meets Jackie outside, who is bragging about his new car. V says she wants to take it for a spin. Driving can be handled from first- or third-person, and in this instant shows us just how big the world is. V takes the car across crowded streets, onto the highway, and more. Jackie is constantly chatting with V in the car. Along the way, the car is attached by a random scavenger group in a van, who throw open the back doors to open fire. V can lean out of the car to return fire. After the gunmen are down and the vehicle is destroyed, they drive to the meeting point.

Before engaging with the corporation, V stands above them and scans the female leader, her bodyguards, and the vehicle they arrived in. CD Projekt says preparation is crucial for most missions. They are all much higher levels than her. V approaches them carefully, and decides to talk to them. What's interesting here is they've created a neuro link with V and can determine if she's lying. They ask her things like if she's alone or not, and you have the choice in what you say. V says she's alone, and they believe she's lying. They point a gun to her head. She is forced to the ground, and a gun is put to her head. V has the option to grab the firearm, but CD Projekt says you should really think something like this through. V instead uses dialogue choice to turn the threat around and have the corporate leader trust her. This entire scenario could play out differently or not at all.

CD Projekt says choices and consequences are bigger in this game than in any of their previous ones. V is handed a credit chip, and is allowed to leave. She and Jackie drive to another, and are currently engaging in a non-violent approach. They are going to hand over the chip for the stolen gear.

This exchange doesn't go as planned. The Maelstrom gang are even less trusting than the corporation. Their leader Royce has turned an abandoned meat factory into a hideout and has already turned some of the stolen gear into newfangled weapons.

(This article is being updated continually throughout the day with new information from the lengthy demo. Check back later for the full piece.)

Categories: Games

Five Things You Need To Know About The Division 2

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 06/12/2018 - 21:55

The Division is back, and the sequel is taking the train down the coast to our nation’s capital. Turns out New York City isn’t the only devastated major metropolis; the virus spread throughout world, leaving countless dead, crippling economies, and leaving a serious power vacuum where rival factions vie for resources and isolated pockets of civilians try to eek out an existence. Full recovery is years (if not decades) away, but you have a more immediate concern. Seven months after the outbreak, agents suddenly lose contact with Division headquarters. You  need to investigate what happened, push out the rival factions vying for control of the city, restore critical resources, and aid in the rebuilding efforts.

After watching a presentation and sitting down to an end-game play session, I have a much better idea of what to expect from The Division 2. Here are the big takeaways. 

The New Setting Affords New Opportunities
Ubisoft says Washington D.C. is 20 percent bigger than midtown, and the developers at Massive are delivering an almost one-to-one recreation of the city using real data. That means locals should be able to easily find their way around, and by the end of spending hundreds of hours in the game, hardcore Division players should be able to offer guided tours of the city. The most exciting part of the new setting is it’s much more varied. Say goodbye to dark, snow-covered streets. D.C. has commercial areas that have been looted for several months, wooded areas where nature is reclaiming the land (seems a little early for that but we appreciate the sentiment), a flooded government center, Georgetown suburbs, and of course the historical sites that litter the mall. Ubi said each biome adds visual variety and play differently, requiring new approaches. We also noticed a towering wall covered in barbed wire – D.C. has a dark zone of its own – and you will have a base of operation that needs some work done.

Gunplay Is Less Spongy
Some shooter fans who prefer the glass cannon approach to weaponized combat never could warm up to how spongy the enemies were in The Division. Though I eventually got past this to see the greater equation of squad play, I admit it still felt weird needing to unload a full clip to down an unarmored sanitation worker. Though enemies still take more bullets to down than they would in a Rainbow Six or Ghost Recon game, Massive made unarmored enemies much less resistant to gunfire, speeding up the time to kill compared to the original game. Heavily armored baddies still take concentrated fire to take down, and their armor gradually gets destroyed as the skirmish unfolds. Speaking of armor, agents get the defensive benefit of a new armor system as well. 

Massive Is Already Building Out The Endgame
Massive has seen the fallout of Destiny 2 and spent the last two years listening to its own community about how critical it is to have a robust endgame available for players once the campaign is wrapped and players hit the level cap. For The Division 2, the studio promises “accessible, deep, and varied” content once you hit that threshold. Solo play is still viable, but the concentration is clearly on cooperative play. For the first time, eight players can team up for larger raid missions, but the team also wants to provide endgame content for solo players and more casual agents. The Division 2 will feature World Tier from day one. During the presentation they also promised clear goals, continual rewards, and meaningful progression.

I asked if Ubi plans to offer a procedurally generated experience similar to the Underground, and Red Storm senior producer Tony Sturtzel said “we don’t have any news about that today, but we certainly understand that players enjoyed that experience, and we want to make sure that we give players content that they can attach to based on the way they like to play.” What about Survival? “The one thing that came along with that we can say we do NOT want to do is the community split aspect,” he said. This is why Ubisoft decided to offer all the first year content updates for free.


Specializations Extend Progression
Once you hit level cap, you gain access to a suite of specializations that give you access to new signature weaponry. The three options on display for the E3 demo were the Survivalist (crossbow), Demolitionist (grenade launcher), and Sharpshooter (.50 cal sniper rifle). These signature weapons all have special ammo you can pick-up during firefights for added punch, and each specialization has a unique progression path that allows you to create more variety with the build that you have via mod and talent unlocks. I played as the Survivalist, and the explosive bolts for the crossbow are powerful enough that I preferred saving them for when heavies arrived on the scene in our control point battle with the True Sons, a rogue paramilitary faction. You aren’t locked into an option once you choose it; you can hot swap these in and out and continue down their respective progression paths when they are equipped.

Customization Allows For More Personality
One of the things Ubisoft wants to push in The Division 2 is more player expression, which it is calling “peacocking.” Sturtzel said they have reserved vanity slots for things that you can only get by achieving certain accomplishments in the game. Think of them like trophies you can display on your character. 

Ubisoft is also expanding the available wardrobe – sounds like we’ll have more options that expand beyond the Eddie Bauer catalog this time. “We know that people enjoyed the vanity, and we’ve been able to add some variety to that in the two years post-launch. We want to make sure we build from there in terms of the level of variety that we give players because we know that is a huge thing for them.” 

The Division 2 is scheduled to release on March 15 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Ubisoft also plans to hold a beta, which you can sign up for here.

Categories: Games

Taking To The Open Seas

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 06/12/2018 - 21:40

When Skull & Bones debuted at E3 2017, fans heralded it as the full pirate experience of Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag without taking any breaks from the naval action. As Joe Juba pointed out when he played it last E3, it's more than just Black Flag without the assassination bits.

The core concept is the same: Captain your ship as you take on enemy vessels and loot debris. More mechanics come into play with Skull & Bones, however. From choosing different ship classes to enhanced wind effects, Skull & Bones requires players to think more about their approaches when setting sail. Spotting and assessing enemies on the horizon is crucial, as you learn what valuable resources they're hauling, as well as how dangerous they are.

The demo I played features ships ranging from level 14 to level 18. Knowing this, I target some of the lower level ships and loot them. Much to my surprise, some of them put up a good fight. The battle intensifies as the lowly level 14 I'm picking on calls his buddies to help out. Before long, I'm cannon fodder as three ships swarm me. I turn the direction of the wind, open my sails, and do the one thing I can do: flee.

After my narrow escape, I take some time to use one of my consumable repair kits. A short cutscene shows my crew repairing the ship and my HP raises once more. However, this leaves me in a precarious situation with no safety net for another rough fight. Using my lookout, I find a shipwreck to scavenge from. Upon arrival, I'm given the choice to loot for treasure, steal the ship's flags as disguise, or take materials to build a repair kit. I'm intrigued by the disguise option, but I'm in dire need of a repair kit, so I choose that.


However, I want to see how the disguise option works, so I seek out another shipwreck. This time, I take up an opposing fleet's sails and flags. When in disguise, their allies will be friendly to me, and their enemies won't hesitate to open fire. Knowing this, I decide to use my disguise to get a drop on a high-level ship. I sneak up on an unsuspecting enemy and obliterate it with my cannons.

I've raised enough trouble to attract some unwanted attention: bounty hunters. These high-level ships are powerful, fast, and unrelenting. To combat them, I join up with another player in my session. This disables friendly fire, so I don't have to worry about getting caught in their crossfire or the sting of betrayal.

Even with our combined forces, we struggle in the battle. The bounty hunter ships begin by ganging up on me, knocking my health to dangerous depths. My teammate swoops in for the rescue, but I'm in no position to stay in the battle. I speed away toward the nearest shipwreck and retrieve another repair kit. I build my ship back up and rush back into battle.

The cycle of maintaining your ship while fighting off enemies and looting everything possible is exciting, and adds fun layers to the enjoyable naval combat.

Categories: Games

Gambit Trailer Shows Off The New Mode

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 06/12/2018 - 19:16

A new trailer for Destiny 2: Forsaken's hybrid PvPvE Gambit mode explains the game's rules. The team-based mode begins with players killing non-player enemies to collect motes, which players can deposit to earn points, slow the other team's progress, and invade the team's play area. Once a team scores enough points, they'll be able to fight a "Primevil" boss. If they kill it, they win.

To read our thoughts on Gambit and the other changes Forsaken is bringing to Destiny 2, check out Suriel Vasquez's hands-on impressions.

Categories: Games